As Thanksgiving approaches, I always begin to wonder how I can put a little twist onto one of my favorite traditional recipes to make holiday dinners a little more interesting. A good example of this is baking a chocolate pumpkin pie instead of a more traditional one, or turning the pie into some pumpkin pie bars to make them easy to pass around to a big group. A small change from pumpkin pie is to bake a sweet potato pie, and as sweet potato pie just about screams Southern classic to me, I opted to combine it with another classic, buttermilk pie, to create a Buttermilk Sweet Potato Pie for the holidays.
The pie is easy to whip up in a food processor and you can either use a graham cracker crust or a regular, pre-baked pastry crust. I like the slight crunch of graham crackers with a custardy pie, so I opted for the former. Premade graham cracker pie crusts are also a great time saver when the holiday season gets into full swing. You can use either homemade cooked, pureed sweet potatoes or buy canned sweet potato puree. If you opt to use leftover sweet potatoes, you might need to add a tablespoon or two of water to them to soften them up, as they can dry out in the refrigerator.
The flavor of this pie is a bit difficult to describe because there is no single flavor that dominates this pie, though it is very tasty. wonderful sweet flavor from the brown sugar and sweet potato, great little extra buttery boost from the buttermilk. The vanilla and nutmeg come through, but only to add subtle dimension to the rest of the flavors. The consistency is similar to that of pumpkin pie, but it is bit lighter and more tender. It’s not too filling, so it is a good choice after a big meal.
There is one caveat to this pie and it is in the sweet potato itself. If you use canned sweet potato puree, you’ll end up with a very smooth pie. If you use leftover baked sweet potatoes, even after pureeing and straining them (which I have done), the pie still may have a slight bit of extra texture to the custard filling, since sweet potatoes are starchy and it’s a rare batch that is sikly smooth after cooking. I’ve found that this happens with pumpkin pies that use fresh pumpkin versus a canned puree as well, and while pureeing the potato and pressing it through a wire strainer will help significantly, it’s just something to keep in mind in case your pie is not as silky smooth as a plain buttermilk pie with no added textural elements.